“I had always found comfort in the leaves, in their silence. They were like a parchment that holds words of wisdom. Simply holding them in my hand gave me some of the peace a tree possesses. To be like that-to just be-that's the most noble thing of all.”
“Maybe all the secrets of life were written on the surface of leaves, waiting to be translated. If I touched them long enough, I might be given some information no one else had.”
“Any two people can set and jaw all day long, but it takes two people right for each other to set together and just be quiet.”
“Every morning I was renewed, though. Air and light healed me, over and over. I got to where I depended on it. When I was feeling my worst, I would step out into the yard and put my hands on the branches of the little redbud. It made me feel like I was saying a prayer, to do this. I know that sounds like foolishness, but that little tree was like an altar for me. I stood there in the cold of early winter, wishing for the redbud to bear leaves so that I might put my face against them.”
“I wondered if we were put on this earth only to destroy every beautiful thing, to make chaos. Or were we meant to overcome this? Did bad things happen so that goodness could show through in people?”
“Autumn air is good for the lungs.”
“When you have a child, you have to put things aside, though. You have to live for them, if not for yourself. I was aware of this. I knowed that I could not let myself die inside, so I struggled through and made a way for myself. Most important, I tried to find a way to get joy into my life. I made a way for the possibility of joy. I looked for it anywhere I could find it. I got up early and stepped out onto the porch to see day come in.”
“I hoped that I would give to my marriage the same nurturing that I found easy to give to the corn and the tomatoes. Raising a garden and keeping a marriage in shape are not that different.”
“The beginning is half of every action.”
“Only after Mom went missing did you realize that her stories were piled inside you, in endless stacks. Mom's everyday life used to go on in a repeating loop, without a break. Her everyday words, which you didn't think deeply about and sometimes dismissed as useless when she was with you, awoke in your heart, creating tidal waves.”
“We heard the United States had a new president, that she was arranging for a loan from the Commonwealth to bail us out. We heard the White House was burning and the National Guard was fighting the Secret Service in the streets of DC. We heard there was no water left in Los Angeles, that hordes of people were trying to walk north through the drought-ridden Central Valley. We heard that the county to the east of us still had electricity and that the Third World was rallying to send us support. And then we heard that China and Russia were at war and the US had been forgotten.
Although the Fundamentalists' predictions of Armageddon grew more intense, and everyone else complained with increasing bitterness about everything from the last of chewing gum to the closure of Redwood General Hospital, still, among most people there was an odd sense of buoyancy, a sort of surreptitious relief, the same feeling Eva and I used to have every few years when the river that flows through Redwood flooded, washing out roads and closing businesses for a day or two. We knew a flood was inconvenient and destructive At the same time we couldn't help but feel a peculiar sort of delight that something beyond us was large enough to destroy the inexorability of our routines.”
“Yes, it would have been good, he thought, to spend quiet years with his family, waiting for his diseased heart to fail as he sat in his chair staring at the mountains. But this was better. This was life! Not the killing and the terrified screams of dying men suddenly facing the awesome spectre of their own mortality. No, but to face his fears as a man, to stand at the brink of the abyss and refuse to be cowed or beaten down.”
“It's a little like being alone on a moving train for the first time. The excitement and wonder at the new experience slowly gives way to the creeping feeling that something isn't quite right. You check your ticket and see that you have made a mistake-- it's not the train that you have intended to be on. At first, you try and deny it. You watch the scenery slipping past and try to find a familiar landmark, and for awhile you take solace in denial.
But soon, the terrifyingly unfamiliar terrain outside the window causes you to panic. Crushing fear that you can't ignore makes you rush around, looking for a way off it. But, it's moving too fast that you know there is no getting off until it stops somewhere. So you creep back to your seat and try not to attract any attention to yourself because the strangers in the train have taken on a weird, plastic appearance. Any camaraderie that you may have shared with them before is gone since you're no longer one of them: you're a trespasser meant to be on a different train.
The knowledge begins to weigh on you as you slide farther and farther from where you wanted to go. You try to reign in on your fear and convince yourself that maybe this new destination will be better than the one you had planned for yourself.
Then, somewhere along the way you discover that all your baggage is wrong, too, and you find that you're ill equipped to survive on the trip you're on, but then... then you notice that the stranger sitting next to you isn't like the other passengers... that even though you sat in his seat, he is going to try and help you sort out the tangle you're in. And, because this stranger is so perfect, you begin to relax a little and forget that you are on the wrong train at all.”
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